Alpha 900 and Flash Connection errors

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Gaetan01
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Alpha 900 and Flash Connection errors

Unread postby Gaetan01 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:37 pm

I really need some guidance as to what is happening. I noticed lately that when I use my Sony flash or install my pocket wizard for my monolight firings, i would get the occasional sick sounding shutter sound and an error notification on my camera monitor of "Camera error". It has, regretfully, been getting worse. Today as I was doing a portrait session with a customer, I attached my Zeiss 135mm and Pocket wizard. I was never able to get off one shot without the "camera error" indicator on the camera's monitor. Panicking (but not in front of the customer), I excused myself and then connected my zeiss 24-70 and was able to finalize the shoot.

My second client then arrived and I began shooting with the 24-70 but began noticing that it to was beginning to react strangely (same indications) to the point that every other shot was a "camera error" but I was able to get the job done.

So bottom line cannot use flash or wizards (with the approved sony attachment) at all on my zeiss 135mm and getting more than 50% failure on my 24-70 and 16-35. When not using flash, all lens are fine.

Would anyone have any ideas as to what is happening?

Respectfully

Gaetan Dery

www.PhotoStudioDery.com

redsim74
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Re: Alpha 900 and Flash Connection errors

Unread postby redsim74 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:11 am

I suppose the first and easiest course of action would be to clean the flash contacts on the camera. Intermittent electrical connections can cause strange behaviours.

Gaetan01
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Re: Alpha 900 and Flash Connection errors

Unread postby Gaetan01 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:30 am

Did that. For a while it seemed to be OK but the problems came back shortly thereafter.

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UrsaMajor
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Re: Alpha 900 and Flash Connection errors

Unread postby UrsaMajor » Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:19 pm

Gaetan01 wrote:Did that. For a while it seemed to be OK but the problems came back shortly thereafter.
What did you clean, and how did you clean it?

It is possible that the problem was the contacts on the camera, or the contacts on the flash, or both. If you cleaned only one of those locations, there may still be an issue.

Also, I have found that the only way I have been able to properly clean flash contacts is to use a "contact cleaner" made for electronics equipment - which typically comes in a spray can. On several occasions that has solved problems for me after other cleaning methods have failed.

With best wishes,
- Tom -

Gaetan01
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Re: Alpha 900 and Flash Connection errors

Unread postby Gaetan01 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:58 pm

I used isopropyl alcohol and cleaned with a QTip all flash contact points on the camera and other contacts on the flash unit and the little SONY hot shoe adapter contacts (for my Pocket wizard connections).

Gaetan

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Greg Beetham
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Re: Alpha 900 and Flash Connection errors

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:22 am

I would be suspicious of the contacts as well, both on the camera and flash/triggers; the A900 might be (very likely) similar to my A700 in the shoe area which has a tendency to self insulate the contact pin/pins with plastic transference from the action of sliding the flash on and off.
When I can make the flash icon and exposure line on the rear screen disappear and reappear just by moving the flash slightly I know it’s time to clean the contacts again.
The thing I’m suspicious of in your case is the ‘camera error’ message, I have not had that appear on the A700 but I suppose it may depend on which pin (or combination) of the four is not making contact….maybe.
I first noticed the problem with the A700 when it began producing either no flash for the exposure or full power flash over exposures, in other words no regulation at all.
A clean of the contacts both on the camera and flash fixed (I had to use something abrasive to get rid of the problem, first time it was CD buff/polish, last time I used microfine WD) that immediately and it was back to normal with near perfect flash exposures once again.
This might not be the cause of the problem in your case of course, from what I’ve noticed across the web when a ‘camera error’ message appears there is usually something mechanical responsible, and unfortunately the most likely suspect is the shutter/mirror/aperture control area. (Not a forgone conclusion but possible)
I guess you could check the AF by selecting in the menu item Release priority = release instead of AF to see if the error goes away, but I doubt that the auto focus would be the first thing to fail, you also could check the lens contacts/compatibility area with the menu item Release w/o Lens = Enable, but I don’t think there would be any problem in the lens area with the lenses you are using either.
As you are using the camera commercially you probably need to talk to Sony support and arrange for it to be checked and fixed, you will need to use a backup camera in the meantime of course.
Greg

Ps I’ll enclose a couple of diagrams from the A700 service manual (can’t find an A900 service manual), the items depicted are most likely similar in both cameras. As can be seen just replacing the shutter is a major job with almost a full procedural disassembly being involved with many items that are ‘use once’ insulators, isolators, joints and mountings that usually have to be discarded and replaced in the process.
A700 Iris Ring.jpg
A700 Iris Ring.jpg (90.06 KiB) Viewed 1519 times

A700 shutter replacement.jpg
A700 shutter replacement.jpg (122.17 KiB) Viewed 1519 times

Gaetan01
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Re: Alpha 900 and Flash Connection errors

Unread postby Gaetan01 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:09 pm

"When I can make the flash icon and exposure line on the rear screen disappear and reappear just by moving the flash slightly I know it’s time to clean the contacts again." ...Yes I have also this situation on occasion as well. Before I contact SONY, I will attempt to do a thorough cleaning of all points. (yes my 900 is used commercially). What exactly do I need to clean any debris from these contact points? Emery cloth? type of liquid? (what exactly is microfine WD?)

Thank you for this info. Unfortunately it seems we may have discovered a flaw in the Alpha design?

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Gaetan Dery

http://www.PhotoStudioDery.com

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Greg Beetham
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Re: Alpha 900 and Flash Connection errors

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:36 pm

Gaetan it’s a 3M product, the sandpaper is so fine it’s more of a polishing action than anything, http://catalogue.3m.eu/en_EU/EU-AERO/Abrasives/Wet_Sanding/Perfect_it-III~Microfine_Abrasive_Paper~314 I found the plastic that gets dragged onto the camera contact pins by the sliding spring loaded flash pins to be very persistent and hard to get rid of so I had to resort to the microfine paper. If you have a plastic knife handy/available just wrap a small piece around the back edge of that to carefully clean the camera contacts without contacting the rest of the shoe area (as much as possible).
My earlier two cameras don’t suffer from this problem only the A700 does, its shoe seems to be of a softer plastic compound than the KM5D and the A100, the shoe area in those seems to be a separate part and made of different harder plastic.
I suppose it’s the human condition, we progress but at the same time forget how to do things we already learnt before, thus we are condemned to repeat/recycle mistakes over and over.
Then of course there is the economic perspective also, I suppose some bean counter wiz-kid got a bonus for saving the company the expense of having to separately make the part out of more expensive plastic with the attendant extra difficulty with the pins, the soft plastic would probably allow the pins to be heated and pressed into position and become ‘welded’ to the plastic, whereas the hard plastic assembly would most likely have to be cast/moulded with the pins held in their proper position, conforming to tolerances, and most likely be a more expensive part.
Greg

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Re: Alpha 900 and Flash Connection errors

Unread postby David Kilpatrick » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:12 am

This 3M product is also sold in a dry rubberized form as Jim Dunlop guitar fret polishing sheets - small squares in a pack of two, inexpensive. It is good for cleaning or polishing rings, contacts, anything metal like that.

David


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